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Insights for Southeast Asia Retailers for Ramadan 2024

Marketers need to take note of the trends to ensure that their advertising strategies are effective and engaging says Criteo.

Criteo is drawing upon its 2023 Ramadan retail sales data in Southeast Asia (SEA) to offer brands greater insight into navigating the upcoming festive season.

Total consumer spending in Southeast Asia is forecasted to increase by 43.41% according to Statista. Within local markets, Singapore and Malaysia are expected to see more modest growth in consumer spending while Indonesia expects to consumer spending to remain high, fueled by the nation’s elections. All of this despite inflationary pressures and rising concerns over costs of living.

“Given the varied economic landscape in SEA and heightened demand during Ramadan, it is necessary for marketers to revamp their strategies to effectively reach their audience,” said Taranjeet Singh, Criteo’s Managing Director for Enterprise, APAC.

“Last year’s Ramadan data reveals the changes of SEA consumers’ shopping habits during the holy month. Marketers need to take note of the trends to ensure that their advertising strategies are effective and engaging to their audiences at the most optimal timings.”

Ramadan 2023: How Sales Performed

Ramadan took place from 22 March – 20 April in 2023 and the first two weeks saw up to 47% increase in sales across SEA compared to the last two weeks of February 2023.

According to Criteo, within the region, Malaysia experienced the highest average increase in sales during Ramadan (compared to Feb 15 – 28, 2023) with a 40% increase, while Indonesia and Singapore experienced a 30% and 16% increase respectively.

Malaysia and Singapore saw sales peak during the first half of Ramadan, particularly on 2 April where sales increased by 103% and 46% respectively as compared to Feb 15 – 28. In contrast, Indonesia witnessed a steady increase in sales throughout Ramadan. Indonesia was the only country that had a significant uptick of 79% on 4 April, a double day where more discounts are offered. This is followed by a second peak reaching up to 74% increase on 14 April, a week before Eid.

Compared to retail sales in 2022, SEA saw an 8% year-on-year (YoY) increase in 2023, with each country in the region displaying unique spending patterns:

  • Singapore saw the highest rise in YoY sales, recording a 19% uptick across its retail transactions.

  • Malaysia observed a 17% increase in YoY sales, showcasing the strong consumer spending power during the festive period.

  • Indonesia experienced a 5% decline in YoY online sales during Ramadan, suggesting a different spending pattern in the region.

Criteo said that when it comes to category sales, Religious & Ceremonial stood out as the top performing product category with a 101% increase in sales during Ramadan as compared to the average into Feb 15 – 28, 2023. Other product categories that performed well included Apparel & Accessories (+30%)​, Food & Beverages (+23%)​ and Health & Beauty (+16%)​.

Additionally, according to the Criteo data, there was a 21% YoY increase in online bookings for travel during Ramadan 2023. 3 days prior to Eid, online bookings were up by 16% compared to the average in Feb 15 – 28, 2023. This might be expected as people want to gather with their family and friends for the celebration.

On average, SEA consumers started browsing 14.6 days before purchasing a product during the first two weeks of Ramadan. The month of Ramadan also saw a change in the patterns of online shopping specifically in Indonesia and Malaysia.

  • Average sales during Ramadan outperformed non-Ramadan periods in every time slot, showing that people were actively shopping during Ramadan compared to previous 15 days.

  • During iftar (breaking of fast), online sales among Indonesian and Malaysian retailers decreased more than regular days. This fell within the time slot of 18:00-19:00​ (Indonesia) and 19:00-20:00 (Malaysia)

  • During sehri (pre-dawn meal) hours, there was also an increase in sales in both Indonesia from 04:00-05:00 and Malaysia from 05:00-06:00. Ramadan witnessed more distributed shopping during mid-day as people were fasting during the lunch hour, with 10am – 4pm still being the most active shopping interval. Lunchtime hours in Malaysia and Indonesia recorded the highest number of sales during the day.

  • Singapore saw a slight increase in average sales during the 05:00-06:00 time slot. This coincided with sehri, suggesting a potential link between Ramadan practices and this buying behavior. This trend is not observed on days outside of Ramadan.

Boosting consumer engagement

Criteo prepared the following four tips to heighten engagement during the coming Ramadan and Eid.

Opting in on first-party data

With the impending addressability changes, it is critical for marketers and retailers to prepare and strategize. A key factor to success will be the robustness of opted-in first-party data strategies—it’s not simply owning or collecting data, but also being able to readily activate it in scalable ways that benefit the consumer experience. Forward-thinking marketers and retailers will continue to fortify their data strategies to enable scalable targeted, personalized advertising and experiences that benefit their consumers.

Tapping into a unified retail media platform

According to Criteo’s “The Great Defrag: how commerce media will unite advertising in 2024” report, an overwhelming proportion of agencies (93%), brands (88%) and retailers (89%) said retail media has had a strong or positive impact on their bottom line in 2023. In fact, 79% of advertisers agreed retail media spend is more effective in terms of sales than any other channel. The data also illustrates how retail media has evolved beyond purely sponsored product ads.

Overall, 85% of brands and agencies agreed the ability of retail media to drive upper-funnel brand awareness is growing stronger, and 83% of publishers are looking to tap retail media ad spend by embedding products on their web pages, opening up more inventory opportunities for offsite campaigns.

For brands, agencies, and retailers, the key to growth is in finding solutions that can unite, streamline, and simplify the management and measurement of retail media to combat the challenges with budget management and measuring ROI, which are directly connected to the larger issue of fragmentation.

Leveraging SKU data

Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) data typically includes information such as product description, price, size, color, and other relevant details that help identify and manage inventory. By analyzing individual product codes, it unlocks a wealth of insights about customer preferences and behavior at a granular level including fine-tuning targeting, messaging and overall campaign resonance.

SKU data will also enable personalized marketing efforts, empowering the creation of hyper-targeted campaigns that resonate deeply with individual customer segments, based on their preferences and purchase history. Marketers can tap onto this by segmenting audiences based on SKUs, tailoring ad creatives to specific product preferences, and dynamically adjusting bids based on SKU-level performance. This data-driven approach leads to unparalleled optimization and ROI in their campaigns.

Building a seamless shopping experience

The digital and physical advertising worlds are increasingly coming together to provide more value to consumers. This blurring intersection of online and offline will require retailers and brands to accelerate toward a fully integrated commerce future. From the impact of ROPO (research online, purchase offline) to the need for better cross-channel attribution, retailers and brands will need to partner closer together to achieve seamless consumer experiences that boost engagement and drive customer loyalty.


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